HC Deb 03 July 1980 vol 987 cc1743-4
4. Mr. Newens

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has received any representations on the need further to restrict the conditions on which shotgun licences can be obtained since his recent announcements on this matter.

Mr. Whitelaw

In addition to the representation made by the hon. Member, there have been two letters from members of the public.

Mr. Newens

Is the Home Secretary aware that many people, who are deeply concerned about the use of firearms by criminals, are greatly dismayed by his complete failure to take effective steps to make it more difficult for people to get hold of shotguns which are then used in crimes of violence? Does he recognise that many of the police take this point of view? Will not he have another look at the issue because we must all realise that it is very important to try to prevent the use of firearms in crime?

Mr. Whitelaw

Yes, I accept what the hon. Member says about the importance of dealing with firearms in relation to crime. However, I am totally unconvinced that we would gain in that regard by having legislation to control the use of legally-held shotguns, which I do not believe are the real problem.

Mr. Farr

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that well over 99 per cent. of all firearms used in crime are illegally and illicitly held, and have never been legally held by a firearms certificate holder in Britain?

Mr. Whitelaw

I cannot confirm the exact figure, but a large proportion of firearms used in crime are illegally held.